Review – Herculian #1

Every now and then a comic comes around that is just sort of wacky and I’m not sure what to make of it. Herculian #1 fits that bill completely. Written and drawn by cartoonist Erik Larsen and published by Image comics, the entire look and feel of the book will remind you of Sunday Comics in your local paper. Yes, they are still there and the paper still exists in non-digital form.

Let me begin by saying that Larsen is obviously extremely talented as one of the original founders of Image and he continues to go solo producing The Savage Dragon on a regular basis. Herculian seems like a book where he gets the chance to cut loose a bit and just go a little nuts. In the issue the hero known as Herculian is facing off against a would-be bank robber called Punchin’ Judy. Hero versus very muscular female villain…that is about where the common threads with other books go.

Did I give you the impression that Herculian was the main character of this title? I didn’t mean to give you that impression. The story actually revolves around two brothers discussing life over breakfast. The battle for the bank is cleverly woven into their story in a way that I can’t say I’ve seen before. Does that mean I liked the title? You’ll have to read on to find out my impressions I suppose!

As the brothers tell their story they are clearly on opposite spectrums as live goes. One brother is a recent divorcee completely disillusioned with love and life. The other is madly in love and prepared to make the leap into marriage. As they tell their tale, the fight over the bank robbery rages on with moves and punches cleverly choreographed with the story. I certainly didn’t see the final result coming until it happened. As an added bonus Larsen has included about 25 pages of other quirky comics at the end with varying punchlines and degrees of taste.

I feel like Larsen used this whole issue to really explore his dark sense of humor and push some boundaries with a couple of his jokes. Some of the strips in the end were very amusing while some just didn’t resonate with me. Overall, the overall Herculian comic in the first 26 pages was a little lost on me. For the story being told it just dragged on a little bit too long in a painful way. I don’t know what else to say without giving away the story and I’ve already hinted at quite a bit.

This is a story of life and how sometimes it just isn’t fair. The heroes never actually speak and it seems that their story is almost narrated in some kind of parallel universe by the brothers as they talk and argue and love and justice. I appreciated the writing and careful way that the fight matched up with the combat between the two superpowered people. That took great skill, but in the end it just didn’t do it for me. I’m not sure what it was about the book that left a bad taste in my mouth personally.

If you appreciate good writing that really COULD have happened in real life along with an interesting and different fight and some old fashioned cartooning to boot, you might really enjoy this title! It does have a unique feel to it. I will admit it has left me wondering one thing: Can there be a Herculian #2?

Pick up the book in stores if you’d like to find out more.